Despite the huge damage of climate from fossil gas, especially shale gas, IEA likes to use bloomy language, such as “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas” to encourage development of fossil gas.
Incompatibility of scenarios with Paris targets
The International Energy Agency (IEA) continues to assume we will miss the Paris targets, even in its most ambitious “Sustainable Development Scenario”. Its main “New Policies Scenario” would exhaust the 1.5°C carbon budget in 2022.
See the report and briefing Off Track: How the IEA Guides Energy Decisions Towards Fossil Fuel Dependence and Climate Change. Oil Change International, April 2018.
Underestimation of renewables growth
The IEA uses various methodologies and assumptions that consistently bias their forecasts against renewables. In addition, the analyzing system of energy agencies of renewables is out of date. Either way, though, the problem is that faulty reporting of wind and solar energy additions as well as obsessively pessimistic forecasts mislead the public, mislead investors, mislead businesses, and mislead policymakers.
- A modest proposal to the International Energy Authority. Paul Mainwood, Oil Change International, 2017.
- IEA Gets Hilariously Slammed For Obsessively Inaccurate Renewable Energy Forecasts. Zachary Shahan, Clean Technica, 2017.
Primary vs. final energy
Primary energy consumption is a measure of the energy content of all the oil, coal, gas that is taken out of the ground, typically reported in tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). Final energy consumption is the energy delivered to the final consumer. By using primary energy as the standard metric, IEA gives the impression that the solar and wind contribution to world energy supply is several times smaller than it actually is.
- IEA underreports contribution solar and wind by a factor of three compared to fossil fuels. Erik Sauar, Energy Post, August 31, 2017.
- Do Renewables Lower Energy Consumption? Robert Wilson, The Energy Collective, 2014.
Underestimation of leakage rates
The numbers the IEA uses for gas leakage in gas extraction are an underestimation. They use US EPA numbers (1.7% leakage, before shale gas) and say this is the global average, but the leakage is more than 3.6%. Methane emissions from shale gas are much higher than from conventional gas.
- For an overview of the different studies on the issue see webinar by Prof. Robert Howarth.
- For useful background and more detail on how oil and gas companies deal with this, and how the estimates are produced, see Methane emissions – from blind spot to spotlight. Chris Le Fevre, Oxford Institute for Energy studies, 2017.
- For EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) methane estimates see EPA’s Methane Estimates for Oil and Gas Sector Under Investigation. Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News, 2017.